INHERITANCE OF GOOD
Fr. Jerzy was brought up in a very religious family. He had strong relations with his sister Teresa and brothers Józef and Stanisław, which- despite of their different form – have survived the martyrdom death of the priest. The sister and the brothers of Fr. Jerzy felt obliged to maintain remembrance about their brother, who was acknowledged as beatified by the Church. Fr. Jerzy also played a great role in the life of his sister and brothers’ children who remember him from their childhood. This is the next generation of the Popiełuszko family who decided somehow to continue the work of their uncle, by setting up a foundation named ‘Good’. Its chairperson is Barbara Popiełuszko-Matyszczyk – a niece of Fr. Jerzy, a daughter of Alfreda and Józef Popiełuszko, and vice-chairs are her brother Marek and Agnieszka Popiełuszko-Szklandko – a daughter of Danuta and Stanisław Popiełuszko. This is a great challenge for these young people who want to maintain remembrance about the beatified priest in this way – and let’s hope – their saint uncle, also by doing good like he did in his life. – Now it is your turn – says Marek Popiełuszko.- We feel that we owe it to him. I met with the members of the family of Fr. Jerzy in order to talk about the newly established Foundation.
MAREK POPIEŁUSZKO: - Fr. Jerzy played a great role in our life. He is still present in our hearts and minds, but we want remembrance about him to last. Bearing his words in our hearts and relying on his help from Heaven, we want to do something and help others. Once Fr. Jerzy said: ‘Solidarity is the union of hearts, minds and hands rooted in ideals which are able to change the world for better’. Therefore an important thing is to pass over ideals to others, which our uncle cultivated. He was always ready to serve to everybody. Now it is our turn - we feel that we owe it to him. Therefore we set up the Foundation named Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko ‘Good’ which has its official headquarter in Dąbrowa Białostocka.
What do you want to deal with particularly?
The purpose of our Foundation are mainly protection and promotion of the spiritual and material heritage connected with life and activity of Fr. Jerzy and also his parents. As there would not have been beatified priest Jerzy, if it had not been for his religious parents – Marianna and Władysław. We want to pass over the ideals of Fr. Jerzy and contribute to forming moral attitudes of children and the youth, therefore, we really want to have contacts with schools which are named Fr. Popiełuszko. Our purpose is also charity work, particularly helping the elderly people, ill children and children from poor families, families touched by or endangered by poverty, and what is implied – exclusion.
How do you want to realize these great purposes?
We want to support and prepare publications of books and essays, organize concerts, exhibitions, contests, seminaries, conferences, trips, trainings, meetings devoted to Fr. Jerzy and his parents.
When you mention publications, I would like to take the use of the occasion to thank you and your family for the interview to the book ‘He won evil with good. Saint Jerzy of XX century’ which is to be a collective tribute paid to Fr. Jerzy on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his birth.
I would also like to thank for cooperation. We treat it as our family obligation. I would also like to say that our family has a lot of souvenirs after our uncle and grandparents, but we still want to collect documents, publications and objects connected with them. As for the social and charity activity, it will depend on financial possibilities. If we have suitable means, we would like to give social and scholar grants to students, organize financial and factual support for people and families in need (the ill, the poor, victims of random events).
Is the foundation maintained only from grants, or are you planning your own economic activity?
Certainly, we mainly rely on help from people who share our ideals and would like to support our activity. But in the future we are also thinking about an economic activity, for example, publishing books, making films, making videos and TV programs, activity related to organizing fairs, exhibitions and congresses.
This year is a particular year as 70 years ago, on 14 September, in Okopy, beatified Jerzy Popiełuszko was born. Are you organizing any ceremonies for this anniversary?
Yes, we are. We want to invite everybody to it for whom the person of the priest is very dear. On Saturday 9 September, in a park near the monument of beatified Fr. Popiełuszko in Suchowola, there is going to be an inauguration of the ceremonies, during which there will be an exhibition of the Institute of National Remembrance and there will be a concert of the Orchestra of the Marital Division of Border Guards, whereas the afternoon will be devoted to memories about Fr. Jerzy: there will be a short film, one will be able to listen to the speech of prof. Jan Żaryn, and also memories about the beatified priest given: his family, schoolmates, former soldiers from Bartoszyce, priests from the seminary, students and actors. The day will finish with the Holy Mass in the church of St. Apostles Peter and Paul. On Sunday the ceremonies will be held in the family village of Fr. Jerzy, in Okopy. The day will begin with laying flowers on the grave of Marianna and Władysław Popiełuszko, after which there will be military holy mass. Then there will be a concert given by the Representative Orchestra of Police and Choir of the Provincial Police Headquarters in Białystok, and Marcin Styczeń with his band.
The honourable patronage on the ceremonies has been taken over by the Polish president Andrzej Duda.